Real Genius is another film which I saw countless times on TV when I was growing up. Like just about every other North American boy of my generation, I had a mad crush on Jordan (Michelle Meyrink), the quirky, hyperactive female nerd of this film, to the point that she was really the only thing I remember from the film. Since I am revisiting ’80s films, I thought I might as well see it one more time. There were a few things I picked up this time around which I definitely didn’t appreciate when I was 12 years old, the first being the very nice opening song, “You Took Advantage of Me” by Carmen McRae.
Real Genius is a pretty silly film, overall, but not as silly as many ’80s films. Most of the movie is meant to be driven by a 25-year-old Val Kilmer playing a witty, wacky teenager, something he doesn’t seem entirely committed to, letting his cute bunny slippers do all the work. On the one hand, this is a fairly-well made buddy film about two young gifted men bonding, and even raises some questions about the ethics of how students’ research gets used. On the other hand, this film practically invented the most cliched of the ’80s film cliches: the pop song montage. There seems to be an endless number of “let’s work together to prove to the world that we are not losers” montages in this film. Real Genius was certainly not the first ’80s film to feature a montage, but it certainly has the most. They are cheesy and don’t do all that much to advance the story, but they are fun, as is the movie as a whole.